The Denver Broncos got their tail whipped at home in a 43-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but a lot of that score came from the offensive side of the ball and their inability to generate positive plays consistently. That has led to an inability to score points.
With Drew Lock being the man now, that weight falls upon his shoulders. In the snow on Sunday, he came up short when the team needed him most. Head Coach Vic Fangio has shouldered plenty of the blame, but he isn’t going to protect his second-year signal caller from the need to improve.
“He’s got to get through these games,” Fangio said on how Lock can become more consistent. “The only way he’s going to improve is to play, there’s no other way to improve. Like I said earlier, it’s an 11-man operation as far as the players go. We as coaches are involved with that. We have to do our job better, but Drew is going to have to play better and eliminate the negative plays. We need to complete some more balls, obviously. The only way you do all of that is to play.”
Lock has started four games this season (really only played three after being knocked out early in Week 2 with an injury), but his stat line has regressed badly over the five starts he enjoyed at the end of 2019. He has completed just 55% of his passes for 679 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.
Under his guidance, the Broncos have only been able to muster a laughable 16 points per game - well below the mediocre, yet much improved, 21 points per game at the end of last season.
One thing people are beginning to notice is how easily Lock hones in on his first read. If that first read isn’t there, he seems to begin moving out of the pocket instead of going through his progressions.
“I think many times his first look in there—I think his natural reaction sometimes is to flush out of the pocket,” Fangio alluded. “Sometimes he needs to stay with the progression of going to two or three a little more than he has possibly. The only thing we’re doing to try and correct that is continuing to work on it in practice. He does a better job in practice for the most part but obviously games are different than practice. That’s an area that he can improve on.”
The AFC West suddenly looks like a quarterback powerhouse. Patrick Mahomes is the new gold standard for franchise quarterbacks in the NFL and rookie Justin Herbert just became the second player in NFL history to throw for 250 yards or more in each of his first five games. A feat only matched by Mahomes in his first five starts.
Then there is Derek Carr whom most of us think is a below average starter. In Carr’s first 16 games in the NFL, he completed 58% of his passes for 3270 yards with 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. At present rate, Lock is on pace to complete 60% of his passes for 3398 yards with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions through his first 16 games.
If that continues, the Broncos will have the fourth best quarterback in the division and still looking for an answer in 2021 and beyond. It’s time for things to start clicking for one Drew Lock.